Cronyism fails Collins, but no relief for ACC claimants

The Nats usually look after their own. Hey, they defended Bill English’s housing rort until it became politically indefensible, and he “voluntarily” surrendered his allowance as a purported out-of-Wellington MP.

So you would expect the Nats to be rushing to back up Judith Collins’ defamation suit against Radio NZ and two Labour MPs with some public money.  And all the speculation over the last few days is that they would.

Nek minnit, it is revealed Collins didn’t even apply to Cabinet for funding.

The Cabinet Manual requires that Ministers discuss public funding of legal action with the PM before approaching Cabinet.

My bet is that Key told Collins “no way”. And not out of some concern about public funding of what appears to be a private lawsuit, but because Collins is in the wrong Nat faction. She is ambitious, and she would like Key’s job, which Key would obviously like to keep, just for a little while at least, until he is assured of a significant place in history.

Then we have the backroom players: Michelle Boag and Bronwyn Pullar on Key’s side; and Cameron Slater and Simon Lusk on Collins’ side. And poor old Nick Smith gets caught in the crossfire for inappropriately taking sides.

It is a grand political game, worthy of the English landed gentry (anyone want their moat cleaned?)

But aren’t we forgetting some people here? While the various inquiries circle around which Minister or which ACC official may have done something wrong, no inquiry is being launched into the plight of the ACC claimants who have been wronged by the pernicious, and arguably unlawful, policies of ACC that are designed to deny them cover and entitlements.

While other parties close their ears and play the political games, only the Green Party considers the plight of wronged ACC claimants to also be a political issue.

 

Lest we forget the ACC claimants

There is a parallel story to the ACC scandal that has already cost Nick Smith his Ministerial career, and may well cost other Ministers or senior public servants theirs.  It is a story that no-one apart from Kevin Hague appears to be telling.

That is the story of how ACC claimants are being treated (or mistreated) by ACC. I am not necessarily convinced Bronwyn Pullar’s motivations are honourable, and they may well have much  to do with personal gain, rather than a genuine attempt to address how the system fails ACC claimants.

But as someone who has for many years assisted ACC claimants, including taking cases to review and appeal, I can verify that many of the concerns Pullar expresses in her list (published in the frogblog post from Kevin Hague I have linked to above) are genuine concerns about ACC practices and culture that require investigation.

A good number of them were raised in a report from an inquiry completed by Judge Peter Trapski as far back as 1994. But nothing has ever been done by successive Labour and National led Governments to address them, and the issues, as far as ACC claimants are concerned, fester on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hounding out the National Party corruption and cronyism going on here, and for addressing what appears to be appalling information privacy practices by ACC.

But just as important is ensuring the very serious concerns about the way claimants are treated by ACC are addressed. Good on Kevin for focusing on that. I hope some MPs from other parties will follow his lead.